Tuesday, 20 November 2012
TENERIFE – 1st Nov to 11th Nov
What a contrast to the other 2 islands. Our first impressions not so welcoming. We had hoped to get a one night stay in Porto Colon close to Los Christianos so we can visit our neighbour. We were told no room and with no anchoring and an unfavourable swell we had to go to San Miguel. The Marina was large and past of a golf resort which turned out to be huge. We decided to eat in Los Christianos so we could show the boys what it was like for others on a commercial holiday. This was a mistake as the food was cheap and awful and we were constantly annoyed by street sellers. The boys thought the coloured umbrella that you wore like a hat on your head were just stupid. As it had started to drizzle the sales of these had improved and many women were now looking rather stupid. Ethan made us all laugh when he saw a girl with a big coloured umbrella and remarked “wow they come in a bigger size and on a stick too!”
We had agreed to meet Tamla outside her hotel at 8pm and set off for a walk up the hill. We were constantly badgered by restaurants and bars to eat.
Tamla’s hotel was away from the crowds but once inside the music was very loud and it was difficult to talk. The boys were not keen on the kids entertainment being done by a man in a sailors outfit and resorted to playing games on our ipods. This annoyed Isabella (our neighbours 5 year old) who wanted to play with the boys like she had at home. We went up to another bar and sat outside so the kids could play in the park. The highlight of the night for them was the lady shouting at them from the balcony because she was locked out and needed hotel staff to rescue them.
Tamla plied us with free drinks from their all inclusive wrist bands and we left around 10pm for the taxi back. It is about 10 miles away and cost €25 each way, so not so cheap a taxi as we had been used to. We had picked up some spare anodes though and more importantly Tea that Tamla had kindly brought out. The boys have decided that the boat is a much better holiday than a hotel.
The next day we walked to a small shop and the boys were very excited to see Robinsons squash and other British items not seen for many months. We got back to the boat just before the heavens opened!
The marina staffs were very helpful in completing the forms for permission to anchor. It seemed however that this had not actually been granted. However we were told all was good so we went up the coast a few miles and enjoyed a couple of free nights at anchor. There was a nice golden sand beach and the boys enjoyed jumping off the boat and snorkelling. We seemed to be woken at 4am with a really uncomfortable swell on both mornings and sought refuge at the capital Santa Cruz.
On the way we were called by Tenerife traffic to tell us we did not have permission to anchor and not to anchor without it. We caught up with our friends on Chewsy (Steve and Chris) who had spent 7 nights in the anchorage we had just left enduring the 45 knot winds we had had in Gomera. The official rib had said they could stay so they thought getting permission in Santa Cruz to anchor further north would be a mere formality. This was not the case and after going to port control and completing the forms they were told we never give permission to anchor.
This is also a commercial port home to ferries and cruise ships. We did some shopping and I bought some more Pandora beads as they were offering 30% discount. We had Macdonalds 2 days in a row as our friends on Intrepid Bear offered to take the boys to a museum for the afternoon and they were going their first. Russ and I did a bit of shopping and then went back to prepare roast lamb for the bears. We had a very enjoyable evening and proved you can cook a roast dinner for 9 on our boat.
The next day the boys played Pokemon on the DS all morning which gave us the opportunity to bag up our atlantic dinners and check the stores. I was very pleased to find I had more M&S tins than I remembered buying and we could create 21 dinners from the food we already had onboard. We did also find that Santa Cruz had a small M&S food and added a few more tins and some Mango Chutney to our stores.
The yacht called Leopard was also in our Marina dominating the skyline with her massive carbon mast. We had seen they had a skeleton crew and said we would get the boys aboard for a look around. Charlie (the crew) was more than happy to break the boredom and show us around. The boys were amazed that it had a carbon fibre toilet. They also did not understand why they had covered the carbon fibre doors with a wood laminate to make it look good. Surely nothing looks cooler than carbon. School for the boys was to write up about their visit to Leopard and Oli has written an excellent piece which I will post separately.
Now bored with a big city and killing a few days before Gran Canaria we decided to try stealth anchoring. We left Santa Cruz with our AIS switched off and headed 7 miles north. We dropped anchor amongst some spectacular cliffs and jumped in the sea for a swim. Again the anchorage seemed to become rolly at 4am but during the day it was very pleasant. Our friends the bears and Rafiki (now known as the monkeys – as Rafiki is the wise monkey from Lion King) joined us the next day. Rob nearly blew our cover by saying he would meet us in the anchorage but Sara was quick to say no they were going to the other marina. The kids all went swimming and we enjoyed some Rum cocktails on the Bear. Mad fish left with 7 bottles of Rum as people very kindly gave them as leaving presents and we won a few bottles in MYC (Marchwood Yacht Club) raffles. Taking rum to the Caribbean seems stupid so we have been trying to consume to make space for things we cannot get there. We have 2 bottles left – the sailor jerrys is strictly for bananas on the bbq or hot chocolate as it is spiced so not so good in cocktails, so it has earned its place on boards.
We had a fantastic sail to Gran Canaria with a good 20 to 25 knots of breeze on the beam. We covered the 43 miles in a little over 5 hours which is pretty good going. We left 30 to 45 mins before Rafiki (47ft) and Intrepid Bear (43 ft catamaran) and they didn’t manage to catch us which surprised us. This was the end of a 3 month journey to the start destination of the ARC. We have 2 weeks to prepare, be scrutinised and party hard.
Sunday, 18 November 2012
San Sebastian – La Gomera
We spent 8 nights in La Gomera. The marina was conveniently located close to the town and next to the black sand beach. After the full on car hiring adventures of La Palma we decided to take things much easier and reverted to mornings of school and afternoons at the beach. This means that there are few photos or new adventures to share with you.
The sun shone for the first few days and we enjoyed the beach. The waves were not crashing up the beach so we had fun on the canoe and the kids especially enjoyed trying to fit all 4 of us on, which resulted in falling in quite a lot. The rock breakwater was home to a number of scurrying crabs which made a hasty retreat as you approached. The marina itself was home to many fish which we found were very much like pets that liked being fed. It then became a game seeing what food we could get the fish to eat, like goats they ate everything – even cucumber! The picture below was taken sat on the back of the boat the camera is not below the water. Russell said he saw a massive ray, which marina staff say lived there but we never saw it again.
Intrepid bear arrived on Monday (I think!) , much to the boys delight. We invited them for a drink and just as the evening was packing up Rafiki arrived. Another ARC boat with 2 kids on board. They had sailed directly from Porto Santo (3 to 4 days away). Other islands were closer but the newly created ARC kids email group had told them we were here and they were keen to find children. Emily (age 9) was invited aboard and introduced to the 5 below. This left Rob (her Dad) very relieved as she had said “if we get to La Gomera and there are no kids I am going to kill you!” Having got to know Emily quite well now, he had every right to be scared. The 11pm bedtime turned into 2am as we exchanged stories and experiences over a few too many beers and glasses of wine.
The weather stayed fine for the next day, but we knew strong winds were coming and we would be staying put. We planned to weather the storm in the nearby yachtclub playing games in the afternoon. The wind did what windfinder said it would and just as we were leaving a 45 knot gust ripped through the marina causing a flurry of activity as everyone adjusted and added more ropes and fenders. The pontoons resembled a wiggly snake and swung quite violently. The marina was not piled but held on anchors. The wind was still unseasonably blowing from the South so it felt like you were being blasted with a hair dryer.
With Halloween a day away it was decided that the kids should have a party. The weather had cancelled the event in the town.
Russell bravely took the 7 kids to the beach whilst the remaining adults decorated boats and made food for a Halloween party. The kids enjoyed playing football in the rain with their old friends from Intrepid Bear (Milly, Thea and Harry) and new friends from Rafiki (Emily and James). Sara (Intrepid Bear) and I braved the torrential rain which flooded the streets to buy costumes, games, food drink and prizes. Sara did a brilliant job decorating the Bear.
We found a Chinese takeaway which delivered some lovely food and saved a lot of work in the galley. It obviously took the men a long time to order the said food and we were a little surprised when an hour later they returned without the food and asked if it had been delivered yet. They had had one drink (apparently!) but James (Sara’s husband) looked a bit wobbly and I suspect got a few strange looks as he had gone out complete with a painted face. Us girls had spent not quite such a pleasant hour trying to keep 7 children happy playing games. I think the kids were relieved when we finally gave in and relented to them watching The Witches on DVD. I think they all enjoyed it but Sara and I feel the effort we put in was far greater than the thanks we got.
In an effort to deplete Mad Fish rum stocks, and to satisfy James’ love of making cocktails we started with Rum punch. James then decided that we should have a more Halloween themed cocktail called a Zombie. This still contained rum and I think some Cointreau and other things…. James’ favourite saying is fast becoming “what that needs is some vodka!” The large quantities of fruit juice that accompanied the rum seemed to hydrate us sufficiently that we seemed to awake the next day hangover free.
We said goodbye the next day as we wanted to meet up with our next door neighbour (Tamla) who was holidaying in Los Christianos Tenerife with her Mum and Daughter. We were unable to secure a berth there and had to stay at Marina San Miguel on the South East coast. We enjoyed a pleasant motor (we had a brief sail as we were fooled by the wind into hoisting sails only for it to die again) the 25 miles. It was pretty uneventful and we tried out fishing using our new lure which is a sparkly pink squid. It was going to drive the fish wild and catch us some tea. The only thing we caught was a seagull that flew into the line. Luckily it had not eaten the €12 lure on its first outing, but we were equally not going to cut the line, so we hauled it in and managed to untangle its wing. It flew off seemingly unhurt but missing a few feathers. We have since wondered if we catch one in the Atlantic whether we would try eating it, especially if we had been away several days and failed to have fresh meat for a while. Would it taste of chicken? I have since been told that another boat has caught many seagulls and filleted them and frozen them for the atlantic trip, so if we catch a seagull we will try eating it.